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Landscape Views - Issue 13

This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry

Q. How often do you build something for a client that requires a consent?

Evergreen Landcare

Interviewee: Alister Taylor - Project Coordinator Location: North Auckland

In my current role, I don’t have to manage consents as it’s more of a desk job, but I do have experience with consents in a previous job. About nine months ago, I left a company where I was a physical landscaper. We did the odd job that required consent and would generally work alongside builders for those, as the builders would manage the consent process for us. Most of the time, we didn’t need to worry about consents, as a lot of our work was rural and lifestyle block stuff that didn’t require it, plus we wouldn’t go in for jobs that required consent.

If a client opted for a feature that required consent, we’d always look to steer them away from that decision. However, if they wanted to proceed, we’d ask them to handle it and point them in the right direction, so they could manage the process themselves.

In saying that, we always made sure to stay up to speed with any changes to consent law, as we did do a considerable amount of hard landscaping and you have to keep up to date with the regulation!

Outer Space NZ

Interviewee: Russell Hoffman - Director Location: North Auckland

Staff: 7

We don’t often get involved with jobs that require consent. If we do, they’re normally in conjunction with the construction company I work with. The builders handle the builds, while I handle planting prep, planting, paving, steps and things like that.

It wasn’t an intentional business decision. The jobs I get just don’t require me to handle consents, as our level of construction is limited to raised planters, parts of low decks or boardwalks or aggregate paths with timber edging.

A good example is a job we’re doing with a property developer, who is providing the carpentry for all the decks and fencing while we focus on soft landscaping. At another house build job, the consenting process was handled by the builders, and we would just link up with them for the landscaping work. Sometimes we do find ourselves in a situation where a client wants to build something that requires a consent, and we’ll always notify the client of that as sometimes they don’t realise. Once we do, it’s up to them to decide if the plans should change or remain the same.

Ray Barley Landscapes

Interviewee: Ray Barley - Owner Location: Nelson

Staff: 1

I very rarely build something that requires a consent now; I try to avoid it where I can. I’m semi-retired and I don’t need the extra strife of getting permits.

Back in the day, I used to do about one a year and it was usually around retaining walls and decks. Sometimes, if clients were lawyers or had contacts at council, they’d handle it themselves, but usually I’d do it for them, because, as the designer and builder, I had all the information required.

One thing I’d always do would be to assess a project at the start to make sure we applied for everything that needed a consent, because that's something you need to know right away. There are some areas in Nelson, like Walters Bluff, where consent requirements extend beyond those in the Building Act. In that area, any retaining walls over 600mm high needed resource consent.

Another interesting part of Nelson to work in is inside the Grampian slope zone, where you need engineers onsite. I remember one job we were asked to put in a deck that was 300mm off the ground, but the holes we drilled were 3m deep and we still weren’t hitting anything solid! Luckily, we had engineers on site, who told us that 3m was deep enough and we could stop digging

Morgan + Pollard

Interviewee: Adam Pollard - Managing Director Location: Christchurch

Staff: 75

With 70 staff, we’ve always got one project on that has a consent involved. Usually, our landscape architects work through them ahead of build, then our foreman onsite deal with inspections and makes sure we’re compliant.

We’ve got the staff numbers to manage the consent process from start to finish, or on the rare occasion we can’t, we’ll always provide documentation to clients, so it makes their lives easier if they have to handle consent.

Generally, the whole process is very time consuming, especially as some interpretations can vary depending on the council you’re working with and that can result in some material or design changes, which we then work through with the client. However, we work closely with the council as much as possible to try to limit time spent on consents. For example, our architects will often call them up to check if they’re not sure if something requires one.

We try and get ahead and apply for consents at the start of a project. As it’s part of the planning process, you can wrap a whole lot of things up in one consent, which is more efficient in terms of time and cost.

Despite best intentions, there are times when you need to do a consent after the project has already started, usually because of a last-minute alteration to the plans – for example, a loading might have changed for a retaining wall, and therefore a consent is needed.


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